Kayleigh Gresty is a Bristol-based fashion photographer, working specifically with influencers and brands on their social media campaigns. After battling with her mental health Kayleigh set up her business two years ago, whilst completing her foundation degree. Her work has featured in several magazines and she has photographed global fashion weeks. During lockdown, she has started a new project to keep herself creative and to remind others of this historic time.
You’ve worked as a photographer at Miami and London Fashion Week, can you tell us more about how that opportunity came about?
It’s a pretty long story! I didn’t have a clue how to shoot a runway before my first show, I sat at home and researched through YouTube videos and Instagram pages before applying for a press pass for a show at London Fashion Week. I still had no idea what I was doing when I showed up but I managed to get through the show and it really opened up a new passion and line of work for me. After that I emailed a local shopping centre and asked if I could photograph their “Bristol Fashion Week” they said yes, and I spent 5 days there practising runway shots and backstage shots. Because I reached out to people and pushed myself passed my comfort zone I got more opportunities, because of these two shows I got the opportunity to photograph Miami Fashion Week, my lecturer at University at the time put my name forward to a company who were heading out to photograph the shows and needed a photographer, I had a couple of interviews but made it through and had one of the most incredible weeks of my career. Then I carried on doing a few more London Fashion Weeks and most recently shot at The Strand during London Fashion Week for Getty Images. All of these opportunities came hand in hand, because I pushed myself to go beyond my boundaries in the first place, all the other opportunities followed.
You’ve recently started a new project called “Stay Home”, taking photos of people on their doorsteps. Can you tell us more about the motivation behind starting it?
Since being in lockdown I can’t go out and photograph my clients, I wanted to keep creative and do something that I will be able to look back on in years to come. I asked the community where I live via social media if they would be interested in participating and I got over 60 responses. It’s really given me the motivation to stay creative and carry on photographing and documenting during this time. I’ve of course been sticking to government guidelines, taking the photographs during my daily walks and been keeping to the 2 meters when taking the images. It’s been such a great project and I can’t wait to keep working on it!
“I took every opportunity that came my way whether that be big or small…”
In regards to qualifications, would you say it is necessary for aspiring photographers to attend university/courses etc?
I think it really depends on the individual, but I wouldn’t say a degree is necessary to be a photographer. Certain jobs may require a degree but they may also require a certain amount of experience. Having an amazing portfolio of quality work and experience may be just as effective as having a degree in some cases. If you have the opportunity to study photography though and get a degree from it I would 100% recommend, I only got a foundation degree in photography but I’ve still managed to get big jobs.
For those who would like to know a bit about post production, what is your go-to editing software?
My go-to editing software is Adobe Lightroom Classic 100%! I don’t use anything else, unless I need to get rid of something distracting in an image, then I’ll use Photoshop.
During this time of isolation, you’ve resorted to FaceTime photoshoots, how does this work in comparison to your normal set up?
FaceTime photoshoots are fun, but they’re no where near the same! I miss being in control, you have no control on the positioning of the camera apart from directing your model to put it in certain places. I do think they are a great way for you and your model to be creative together and figure out shots in a more constructive way! It’s also been a great way to network with new models and meet new people during this time.They’re also great fun, but you feel like you’re not doing as much work at all.
Do you have any side hustles alongside your photography company? I have a job one day a week at my local coffee shop, and I also have an online PDF course for sale on how to take street style photographs. I created this during the first few weeks of lockdown to help me with an income but also to spread my knowledge to people who might need to keep their feeds up to date during this time at home.
In regards to putting your work out there to get to where you are, can you give us an insight to some of the challenges you’ve faced behind the scenes?
To get where I am now I’d say I’ve face a few challenges both personal and within my business. I have struggled with my mental health massively over the years, I went to university straight from school and wasn’t doing something I loved. Dropping out to pursue photographing was one of my biggest challenges but it was the best decision for my career and my mental health. If I hadn’t made that decision I wouldn’t be in the position I am today! In business though there are always challenges to over come, when I first started I had to figure out how to get into the niche that I wanted, I took every opportunity that came my way whether that be small or big, paid or unpaid. Without the challenges we face in both our personal and business lives we wouldn’t get to where we are, they’re all part of the journey, that’s how I like to look at it!